Be on time, turn that in, stop what you’re doing… it can feel impossible to keep up.
How can we better relate to time?
“I’ve got something today at 3p. I can’t do anything until then.
“When I get into that hyperfocused state, I can get it done. But I have to wait until later, when the deadline will kick me into high gear.”
It’s hardly surprising, wandering minds, such as those with ADHD, often struggle with the clock. So many of the troubles seem to deal with time.
Issues such as…
– due dates
– adjusting a schedule when things go awry
– doing that one thing that becomes a major time sink
– fearing a time sink that turns out to be something small
… all have something to do with time.
It would be easy to point at these difficulties and call them “symptoms”, a word synonymous with “something wrong with you”.
But what if it’s not about being “wrong”, so much as it is about being out of sync with the increasingly artificial structures of time that surround us?
Many wandering minds seem to do better when in nature. The woods, the work, the sun, the intensities and the moments of relaxation all seem to work better within our rhythms. Nature seems to ease concerns, scatter, and feelings of being inept, replacing them with an attunement to the Now.
There is a depth to reality and a relaxation into being.
What is strangely not obvious is that time itself is a matter of nature. Our culture has adapted, churned, and twisted time to suit itself much like the rest of nature.
We look at seconds, minutes, and hours as if they had substance. But they don’t.
They are an entirely human construct.
As humans, we are much more attuned to those things with which we have direct experience:
The breath, the day, and its seasons of morning, afternoon, evening, and the wee hours of the night…
… each of these have much more meaning than the seconds on a watch.
Our natural waves of focus and emotions crest into consciousness in their own time, swelling and fading by their own existence.
When we strike through our moments with the artificial hands of a clock or the interruptions of emails, messages, and calls, we often create the very turbulence that we then accuse ourselves of as being “symptomatic”.
Certainly, the clock has its advantages in helping us synchronize as a society. I would hardly be able to maintain my practice without a clear idea of when I’d meet my next client.
We must still interact with this world, carved as it is into these odd divisions, but I won’t call them “correct”. These divisions are an entity with which I can have a relationship.
Rather than accuse ourselves of deficit, we can then better wonder,
– How do my rhythms work with those that surround me?
– Where can I find moments of synchrony?
– Can I create moments of synchrony?
PS Consider for a moment, how does your work or play relate to our divisions of time?
PPS – The **second** was first considered an entity by the Persian scholar Al-Biruni around the year 1000 as some fraction of the lunar cycle. It has since been defined and refined to further experientially distant concepts, finally landing in 1967 on: “the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom”[^1]
And this “fundamental unit of time” is how we’re supposed to relate to each other?